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Cricket: Warwickshire seamers give best effort of rising season; LV COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP UXBRIDGE (third day): Middlesex 170 and 20-0 v Warwickshire 393.

Byline: By George Dobell Chief Cricket Writer

The weather may deny them but Warwickshire can leave Uxbridge today feeling well satis Sed with their continued improvement in form.

Rain and bad light have already taken 84 overs from this match and the forecast for today is not encouraging. But, in following a determined display of batting with a skilled display of bowling, Warwickshire have produced arguably their best championship performance for several years and fully deserve to clinch victory today.

Certainly it is hard to recall a better performance from their bowling unit. In dismissing Middlesex for their lowest total of the season, Warwickshire's seamers produced an intelligent, skilful and disciplined display and, for the second time in three matches, forced the opposition to follow on.

It is a telling statistic. It suggests that both the batting and bowling units are starting to function more effectively as well as more consistently and bodes well for the remainder of the season.

This performance was even better than the one against Glamorgan at Cardiff, however.

While Glamorgan are a brittle batting unit that is used to losing, Middlesex have, on paper at least, a strong batting line-up and are second in the points table.

What is more, this is a slow pitch. While atmospheric conditions did aid swing bowling there was little in it to justify yesterday's collapse of seven wickets for 75 runs in 22 overs. Perhaps Middlesex were a little unfortunate.

The regular rain disruptions must have made concentration difScult (54 more overs were lost yesterday) while the conditions appear to have aided swing bowling far more than when Warwickshire batted. They will also reRect, however, that several of them sold their wickets too cheaply with a lack of application and technique being apparent.

It had appeared that Warwickshire were set for an attritional day's cricket. Owais Shah was in determined mood and Eoin Morgan looked in good touch as he drove neatly down the ground.

So when Jonathan Trott dropped Shah, on 25, prodding at a Chris Martin delivery, it appeared that a golden opportunity had been spurned. Warwickshire did not allow their spirits to drop, however, as might have happened last season, and maintained their aggression admirably.

Neil Carter, who is now the subject of a formal approach from Gloucestershire as well as Glamorgan, was especially impressive. Bowling with surprising pace on such a benign surface, he took two wickets in seven deliveries.

The key wicket was that of Shah in the over after lunch. Having set him up with a quick bouncer and series of deliveries leaving the right-hander, Carter swung one back to trap the batsman leg-before. Moments later Morgan, who has signed a new three-year deal with the club, was well taken at slip as he drove hard without moving his feet.

Chris Woakes, who has hardly bowled a poor ball in this match, persuaded Tim Murtagh to follow an outswinger before Murali Kartik's awful innings ended when he attempted to thrash Darren Maddy over extra cover. Alan Richardson edged to slip after attempting a footless waft before the enormous Steve Finn missed a straight one. The admirable Ben Scott was last to go, well caught on the Sne leg boundary off a well-struck pull, to leave Middlesex 223 behind on Srst innings.

All four Warwickshire seamers impressed.

Martin gained steep bounce, Woakes swung the ball both ways, Carter was aggressive and Maddy, bowling admirably straight and swinging the ball, again showed what a valuable bowler he can be.

With so much time lost to rain, Warwickshire had no option but to enforce the follow on. After a few minutes, however, bad light forced Maddy to turn to his spin bowlers and Warwickshire's hopes of further progress were frustrated.

"I heard a lot about the weaknesses of this side when I took over," Ashley Giles, Warwickshire's director of cricket, said.

"I heard a lot about how fragile they were.

Well, they showed great character to come back from a tricky position at lunch on the Srst day, and they've shown great character in the Seld.

"Yes, I'd still like to bring in one senior batsman and one senior bowler but these guys are getting better all the time and you begin to wonder how these new players would St into the team."

CAPTION(S):

Neil Carter, who has attracted the interest of Gloucestershire after Glamorgan sought his services, deserved more success than he obtained yesterday and will open the batting and bowling for Warwickshire in tomorrow's opening NatWest Pro40 match against Kent Picture, JOHN REAVENALL
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 19, 2008
Words:760
Previous Article:OLYMPICS FOR BEGINNERS.
Next Article:Cricket: Double-century Smith ensures Durham have edge on Surrey; DIVISION ONE REVIEW.


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